U.S. faults Bolivia anti-drug efforts
- The Bush administration said Monday it sees
disturbing trends in Bolivia's dealings with
efforts to combat illicit drugs.
Concerns about contributions to the illegal drug
trade by the South American nation came as the
White House released the
U.S. government's annual list of major
drug-transit or drug-producing countries.
The list remained unchanged from a year ago,
with 20 nations cited:
the Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia,
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti,
India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Myanmar, Nigeria,
Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela.
sent a report to Congress that also noted that
Myanmar and Venezuela, for the second year in a
row, were determined to have "failed
demonstrably" to meet their obligations under
international counternarcotics requirements.
The report singled out
Bolivia, the world's third-largest producer of
cocaine, for particular emphasis.
"Despite increased drug interdiction,
Bolivia has undertaken policies that have
allowed the expansion of coca cultivation and
have significantly curtailed eradication," White
House press secretary Tony Snow.
The Bolivian government has focused almost
solely on interdiction, without a focus on
eradication and the development of alternative
crops, the report said.
Snow said the
U.S. government will establish benchmarks by
which to further judge Bolivia, such as
eradicating minimum acreages, including in the
Chapare region, making changes to Bolivian law
and tightly controlling the legitimate sale of
the coca leaf for traditional use. An interim
assessment of any progress will come in March,
Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera met
with senior administration officials last week
to discuss narcotics issues.
Christy McCampbell, of the State Department's
counterdrug office, said Monday that the meeting
yielded little headway.
"We expressed our concerns; he listened to it.
And there was not any kind of meeting of the
minds at this meeting," she said.
Afghanistan, Snow credited President Hamid
Karzai's strong stance against the country's
huge opium poppy cultivation but said the Afghan
government must do more to deter the problem,
including a crackdown on traffickers.
Snow also credited
Ecuador with making considerable progress in
combatting narcotics trafficking destined for
the United States. But, the report said, there
has been a dramatic increase in U.S.-bound
cocaine sent by Ecuadorian-registered ships.
Snow also offered harsh criticism of
Venezuela's counternarcotics record. "Venezuela's
importance as a transshipment point for drugs
bound for the United States and Europe has
continued to increase in the past 12 months, a
situation both enabled and exploited by corrupt
Venezuelan officials," he said.
Bush waived provisions of
U.S. law that could have subjected
to a cutoff of U.S. assistance because of the
designation. The president said he would
maintain U.S. programs that aid Venezuela's
democratic institutions, establish community
development projects and strengthen Venezuela's
political party system.
The administration also decided not to cut these
programs last year because they promote
Venezuela, a key U.S. goal in a country where,
officials say, the commitment to democratic
norms has been eroding under President Hugo